In Response to community uproar over Madison Square Park Conservancies expansion into Worth Square, CB 5 has made the following recommendations .
1) Pedestrian Clearance and Public Safety
The food market as configured for Madison Square Eats allows no clearance for pedestrian traffic on the perimeter edges of Worth Square. During the event, pedestrians along the west side of Fifth Avenue are forced to walk in the street. NYPD and City agencies routinely work together to ensure several feet of pedestrian clearance at all times in analogous public spaces such as Father Duffy Square, and we do not see the justification for public safety being overlooked at Worth Square.
2) Design of Vendor Booths
The booths used presently are tall and opaque, blocking sight lines across Worth Square. In addition to our concerns about the aesthetics of the booths, the Board believes that the lack of sight lines also poses a danger to cyclists, vehicles and pedestrians who converge at Worth Square from Broadway, Fifth Avenue, 25th Street and 24th Street.
3) Use of Generators
Nearby residents, park users, and Community Board Five have objected to the use of generators in our public spaces, including Worth Square. Gasoline and diesel-fueled generators are a source of pollution, excessive noise and obnoxious odors. We encourage the Parks Department to establish an adequate power supply in Worth Square, in order to eliminate the need for generators.
4) Use of Worth Square
Worth Square is public parkland that is home to the second oldest monument in New York City: a granite monument and subterranean mausoleum for General William Worth (c.1857). The Board is notified when military officers wish to perform a wreath-laying in the Square for General Worth, and we believe any RFP should include provisions for explaining how this public space will remain accessible and available to any person or group wishing to use it in this manner.
5) Financial Gain from Worth Square
While we appreciate that the Madison Square Park Conservancy has taken on the responsibility of maintaining Worth Square, we consider Worth Square public parkland separate and distinct from Madison Square Park. We believe that any funds generated by the use of Worth Square should be used only to maintain and improve Worth Square, not be absorbed by the general fund of the Madison Square Park Conservancy.
6) Duration of Occupation of Worth Square
Community Board Five has long had serious concerns about the increasing use of public spaces for commercial purposes. We recognize the need for the Conservancy to generate funds for continuing park maintenance. Over time, we have negotiated modifications to the food market, including its configuration that resulted in the Board’s support for it for the last two years. That support has been contingent on its current incarnation of 29 days or fewer (twice a year). Any increase in duration for any commercial use of the Square would require careful scrutiny, and would certainly require the resolution of the concerns outlined above. The scope of the proposed RFP should include proposals to address all of these concerns.
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